Breathing advice from puppets

A collaboration involving Professor John Dickinson from the School of Sports and Exercise Sciences and a social enterprise called Breath Champs CIC helps children, families and communities to learn about breathing in fun ways. Their video gives asthma and exercise advise delivered by puppets!

The project started when Professor Dickinson met Ms Heather Henry at the Medway Asthma Self Help Charity AGM, where he is a trustee and she was a guest speaker. Heather is a Nurse Entrepreneur and founder of the BreathChamps CIC. Heather discovered that John’s research fitted into a lot of the support she was looking to offer the children she engages with through BreathChamps.

Heather’s goal is to make her town of Sale the UKs first child asthma friendly town. This means sharing asthma knowledge with local people and organisations so they look out for children and know some simple things that will help them – the same model as dementia friendly communities.

The idea for creating this video and using puppets came from Heather. Her social enterprise produces several videos like this providing information about breathing issues that are relevant to children experiencing them.

John provided five tips to encourage children to take exercise. The script for the video was produced and a local puppeteer from Hale Barnes called Jamie Marks was contacted and asked to perform it. Jamie makes all his own puppets and performs as well.

Heather said: ‘Is it easy? It’s a skill!’

When asking about the puppets used in this video John said: ‘Unfortunately I did not actually get to meet the puppets. I provided the information to Heather who then put it into a script for the puppeteers to use.

‘I would love to incorporate the puppets into lectures but I’m not sure my puppeteering is up to scratch!’

Prior to supporting the making of the video, John delivered a sport and asthma masterclass for Breath Champs. This was attended by coaches and physiotherapists with an interest in supporting athletes in overcoming breathing issues.

Children (and many adults) learn best through play, which is why BreathChamps uses puppets, games, craft, singing and stories. You can see more of this on the BreathChamps YouTube channel.